What Is False Imprisonment?
False imprisonment is when a legal entity deliberately restrains another entity’s freedom of movement without any legal authority or justification whatsoever. A prime example of a false imprisonment situation is the “gun to the head” trope; if someone is holding a gun to your head, demanding you to do something or face the consequence of death, they are limiting your freedom of movement without legal authority. False imprisonment can be a criminal or civil issue and it is important to have a criminal defense attorney ready to help.
Three components must be demonstrated for a civil lawsuit to claim false imprisonment: the detention must have been deliberate; it must have been without consent; it must have been unlawful. These three principles must be proven either beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal case, or more likely than not based on a preponderance of the evidence in a civil one.
There are counters to false imprisonment claims. One of these is voluntary consent. This is the most obvious one, being the assertion that the plaintiff did consent. Another defense is police privilege. In the case of law enforcement false imprisonment cases, the police can claim probable cause as a defense. Probable cause is the privilege that law enforcement officials have where they may bypass certain legal steps such as obtaining a warrant or securing legal authority to imprison someone if they have sufficient reason to believe a subject has engaged in wrongdoing.
When it comes to criminal differences, false imprisonment and kidnapping may seem like more or less identical crimes. Kidnapping involves maneuvering an individual away from a set location and to a new place against their will. The operative phrase in this definition is “new place.” False imprisonment involves unfairly tying an individual down to their current location rather than moving them to a separate one. While state laws are different, both false imprisonment and kidnapping may become serious criminal charges and require criminal attorneys.
If you believe or have been notified that you are involved in a criminal false imprisonment case, there are options. Contacting our criminal attornies, if you’re living in the Philadelphia metro area, is a necessity. When pursuing a criminal defense attorney, it is vital to know the specific claims and defenses of the false imprisonment charge levied against you, and how to deal with them. Be honest with your attorney, and don’t forget to call for help in sticky legal situations like these.